Wildfire-Based Homeowners Insurance Cancellation or Non-Renewal? Here’s What You Need to Know

wildfire on a hillside

Wildfires have always been just one of the risks of living in California. Once upon a time, the 49er fire in 1988 was the third most destructive fire in the history of the state. These days, the 49er fire doesn’t even make the Top 20

As fire season grows in destructive power, year after year, many insurance companies are responding by sending out non-renewals or policy cancellations on homeowners’ policies. This is stressful since no homeowner wants to be uninsured, and some are contractually bound to stay covered.

Here’s what you need to know. 

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Why Smart Companies Are Investing in Cyber Insurance Coverage

computer lock symbol

Cyber liability insurance is still a relatively new insurance product. Many companies remain confused about whether they really need this coverage. To many, it sounds like the type of insurance only high-tech companies need.

In reality, companies of every shape and size need cybersecurity insurance, even if they don’t offer a product or service that has anything to do with technology.

Cyber Data Breaches Are Costly on Multiple Levels

The examples of Walmart and Target are common enough, but there are other examples of smaller operations that have faced significant liabilities.

For example, in Philadelphia, a small chain of sandwich shops called PrimoHoagies failed to detect a data breach that took place over the course of seven months. The plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages that are currently “unspecified.”

Yet if a $5 million suit faced by a Cincinnati freight brokerage company is any guide, it may well be more money than a sandwich company could absorb without insurance companies. Even small medical practices have felt the sting of these cybersecurity suits.

Companies who fail to protect their customers from data breaches can expect to face both personal injury and class action suits.

Lawsuits aren’t the only expense a company has to worry about without cyber insurance. They also will have to cover the costs of repairing damaged software or hardware, replacing funds stolen by hackers, and covering the cost of business interruption caused by data breaches that suspend operation. As customers tend to be either unforgiving of or frightened by the thought of doing business with organizations that have suffered from a data breach, there will be costs associated with repairing the reputation of the business as well.

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Is Your Company Ready for SB-778?

employees together in workplace

On January 1, 2021, SB-778 goes into effect. This law is actually the extension of a 2018 law requiring all employers with five or more employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training to their employees, allowing employers more time to comply than the original 2018 law, SB-1343, allowed for.

This benefits employers, but additional time extensions are unlikely. Now is the time to prepare for compliance.

Who needs to be trained and when?

All employees count for the purposes of creating an obligation of this requirement, including part-time and temporary employees. The employees don’t even have to work at the same location.

New nonsupervisory employees must be provided with the training within six months of hire, and supervisory employees must get the training within 6 months of the assumption of the supervisory position. You must pay your employees to take this training and you must cover the costs of the training.

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How Grocers Can Prepare for PG&E Wildfire Power Outages

Wildfire season is approaching. High winds or falling trees often bring down live power lines which can ignite dry brush and start wildfires. PG&E can shut down the power grid to remove the risk, and has often done so in the past.

For grocery stores, power outages are costly. They interrupt business and are capable of destroying hundreds of thousands of dollars of perishable stock. It’s unfortunate, but your property insurance policy is unlikely to cover these power outages. Insurance coverage for PG&E-initiated power outages is generally unavailable; however, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your loss during these outages.

Here’s what to do when your grocer’s insurance policy won’t cover PG&E wildfire power outages:

Get Refrigerated Trucks

This isn’t the best solution, but it will do in a pinch. Be aware that there might be a shortage of trucks when you need them, leaving you with the option of turning to dry ice and hope.

It’s an option to be aware of, but not one you should rely on.

Install a Backup Generator

Invest in a commercial standby generator that will cover your whole building. Small generators won’t get the job done. Work with your electrician to ensure that the generator can handle the power loads of all of your coolers and freezers.

Factor fuel costs into these investments. You’ll want your generator to include a large fuel tank, one that can provide power to your establishment for days.

Why not rent a generator? While it’s possible to do so, there’s the chance you won’t be able to get one when you need one due to limited supplies. High priority customers such as hospitals and other medical facilities are first in line.

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Is Your Company Prepared for a Wrongful Termination Claim?

employee pointing to line in contract square

Wrongful termination of employment can cost companies millions of dollars. If an employee can prove unlawful termination, they can sue for lost pay, lost benefits, emotional distress, legal fees, and punitive damages.

Even smaller settlements can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000. While you may think you can protect yourself simply by following the law, the truth is that innocence is not enough. Any employee can choose to sue, and there’s no guarantee the case will go your way.

When has an employee been wrongfully discharged?

Certain laws govern the reasons why an employee may be terminated. An employee cannot be lawfully terminated if:

  • They are being harassed or discriminated against.
  • The termination violates a written or oral employment agreement.
  • They’re being terminated because they spoke out against a violation of labor laws, or refused to perform work that would violate labor laws.
  • In retaliation for a complaint or claim that the employer was violating laws.

It’s easy to see how the reasoning behind a termination can be construed as unlawful under the right circumstances. For example, even employment contracts that seem clear cut can create vast, complex lawsuits when challenged.

While there are certainly steps an employer can take to create a stronger case in court, there is no way to deliver policies or procedures which offer 100% protection from a lost lawsuit. In addition, there is also a chance management-level employees will take actions the business owner or board would never have condoned, but which ultimately expose the company to liability.

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